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UK money will not cut HSE deficit
[Posted: Fri 03/08/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
The HSE has said the €130 million in funding it has recently received from the UK Government will go straight back to the exchequer and will not solve its current budgetary problems.
Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny has backed Health Minister James Reilly in the row over who is responsible for the €300 million HSE overrun on its budget.
It has been expected that the UK funding, paid under a deal that allows the health service here to get reimbursed for treating UK citizens based in Ireland, would be taken off the HSE's mounting deficit, now in the region of €300 million.
However, a HSE spokesperson told irishhealth.com that this in fact, would not be the case.
According to the spokesperson, the money, which was paid earlier than expected this year, will go straight back to exchequer funds. It had already been factored in and would not reduce the HSE's current deficit.
While the HSE is set to get some advance payments from the VHI in respect of private patients treated in public hospitals, it is still planning major savings measures which health unions say will hit services directly.
The HSE, currently facing a deficit of around €300 million, which could grow to €500 million by the end of the year, is attempting to cut costs in areas such as overtime, agency staff, drug spending and sick pay.
It has also stopped filling practically all vacant posts in the health service, a move unions say will affect patient care and safety.
Health unions, however, are resisting proposals to cut overtime and premium pay rates and a proposal that health workers should work longer hours.
The Irish Times has reported that outgoing HSE CEO Cathal Magee claimed that the Department of Health failed to act as the financial position in the health service deteriorated over recent months.
According to correspondence, he also wanted clarification on how reducing hospital activity would tally with the demands of the Department of Health to increase patient throughput to achieve targets on reducing waiting lists and hospital ED trolley numbers.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended the performance of Health Minister James Reilly and has blamed the HSE for its huge deficit.
He said the accounting officer of the HSE (the CEO) had full authority to keep service overrruns under control without any policy direction from the Minister.
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